NDERA, Rwanda – We dived straight into lessons here at Gardens for Health International (GHI): six Barefoot MBA topics for GHI’s field officers and a little Kinyarwanda for me. Sunday, GHI’s program associate, facilitated both.
Today was the first day on the job for the five field officers, whose energy brought to life their afternoon of lessons. GHI selected the field officers from a pool of 160 through process that, based on field officers’ questions and insights today, was much more rigorous than the Barefoot MBA.
Sunday spent the summer adapting and translating the Barefoot MBA, so after a brief run through this morning, he was ready as scheduled to teach the field officers. We’re teaching ten Barefoot MBA lessons to the field officers, who later this week will teach three to cooperative members.
The field officers listened intently as Sunday taught profit, saving and investing, the three lessons they’ll teach in the field this week. They actively participated in the investing activity, which showed month-by-month growth of the dodo vegetable (sprouts can be sold for up to double the cost of seeds), hens (produce 30 eggs a month, which can be sold for 80 Rfw apiece) and rabbits (multiply like rabbits!). They understood that saving cash can be safe, especially in the short term, but does not generate value over time. They picked up on the seasonality of a dodo investment. And they pointed out that rabbits multiply so quickly that their seller might not be able to find enough willing buyers.
Reassured that they’d practice teaching profit, saving and investing to each other before heading to the cooperatives, the field officers were ready for more. Sunday taught them spending, planning and records, and production, which they picked up just as quickly as they did the first three lessons. He gave a quick overview of the lessons we’ll teach next and then asked the field officers if they had questions.
“What is MBA?” they asked. Sunday explained. The group was amused as it tried to translate ‘Barefoot MBA’ into Kinyarwanda, not a simple task here, where brevity and MBAs are rare. Their solution was my first lesson in the local language: rwiyemeza mikimo w’ikirenga utagira n’inkweto, which literally means a master good entrepreneur with no shoes on. I told them I’d rather start by learning the word for ‘thank you’: murakoze.